Mom Culture

Hi y’all! How is everyone’s new year so far? Anyone feeling completely jaded? I am!

One thing I noticed is that I have a new trigger, woohoo! And by trigger, I mean seeing something that conjures up negative feelings and has the potential to ruin my day. Up until now, my biggest trigger was pregnant women. Trust me- baby pictures, pregnancy/birth announcements, baby showers and gender reveals are no walk in the park, but there is something about seeing a pregnant woman that honestly breaks my heart. Clearly these women are doing nothing wrong or offensive. It’ just that all of the happiness they are feeling, I am feeling the same intensity but in sadness, jealousy, bitterness and frustration. I have never carried a pregnancy to term, I wish I knew what that was like. I wish these women knew how lucky they are. Do they know hoe lucky they are? It’s funny, I know exactly how I feel in my head but I am having trouble articulating it.

Anyway, I realized a new trigger that I have, and it makes sense- MOM CULTURE. I don’t know if that’s an existing term or if I invented it. But when I say mom culture, I mean making EVERYTHING about being a mom, mostly on social media (and in real life too). Here’s an example. An acquaintance of mine recently had her first kid. She posted a picture of herself and some friends out to dinner. She captioned it “mom’s night out.” AND THAT DROVE ME CRAZY. It’ hard enough I had to see her other pregnancy related content. Now that she finally has some “intertiltiy friendly” pictures to share, she has to bring it back to the fact that she is a mom? Of course she is probably over the moon to be a mother, I don’t want to stop her from feeling this way. But for me, someone who doesn’t have any children and would do ANYTHING to be a mom, it just makes me so sad when I see all these moms flaunting their new status. Nothing against them at all, I promise. It’s a trigger. Makes me sad. That’s it.

Another example- someone I follow asked on social media if anyone gets their kids gifts for valentine’s day. An innocent question, but that is assuming that everyone reading that has kids. Clearly I don’t have kids, so just one more thing that doesn’t apply to me. Wonderful.

And then other moms join in. They call each other “mamma.” They talk about their growing families. Label themselsves as proud working moms or stay at home moms- because mom is their new identity. They post mom-related croud-sourcing questions. I hate croud-sourcing in general, but I don’t need to be asked where I can find the most sustainable, organic, chemical free crib.

I’m not singling out moms for being moms. But seeing the strong mom community presence is just a reminder of how badly I want to be included in this mom club, and how, through no fault of my own, I am still excluded.

I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but…

…if you can help it, please don’t bring your kid to your fertility appointment. Believe me when I say that I don’t want to sound insensitive. I know that infertility and miscarriage do not only affect women without children, and I know that having to go through it is a nightmare no matter what. I get that. And I also understand that it is not easy or cheap to arrange for child care. But please hear me out. I went to a fertility appointment the other day, with my future plans very much in limbo. I was not happy to begin with, as I can imagine are most of us in that waiting room. Anyway, in the waiting room was a couple with a toddler, among others. The couple with the toddler were, understandably, making the most noise and drawing the most attention. The toddler was walking around, playing on her noisy iPad… things like that. Totally innocent! But it made me feel down. Obviously babies and children exist and I will be seeing them out in the world. But I don’t want to see them at my fertility clinic, the ONE PLACE where I don’t feel alone, the ONE PLACE where there are other women going through similar struggles. I fall into the category of women who would do anything just to become a parent. I don’t have a child to go home to and give extra hugs and playtime after coming home from my fertility appointments. I don’t have that.  I am not saying my struggle is better/worse than yours, but it is different.

Just like going to a baby shower is hard because it is a reminder that you are not pregnant, seeing babies in the fertility clinic is hard for me because it is a reminder that I am not a mother.  I’m not expecting you to agree with me, but I ask to at least try to understand where I am coming from.

 

 

 

Infertility, Miscarriage and Grief

I will start this post the same way I ended my last one, by stating that there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  My recent miscarriage made me reflect on my fertility journey and I realized that I was grieving throughout the entire process, but in different ways. I’d like to share the different ways I grieved with you. Maybe you have felt the same. Maybe you have felt completely different. But if you are reading this my guess is you have gone through some sort of loss or heartbreak and I hope that sharing my experience can somehow provide you comfort.

1. The first time I grieved was after my first miscarriage. This also happened to be my first pregnancy. I was heartbroken,  I cried a lot, and took off work, but I was able to get “back on my feet” relatively quickly, with the help of rationalization. This was an early first trimester miscarriage. The baby would not have been healthy. This was nature’s way of doing things “for the best.” Also, so many women have miscarriages and go on to have healthy babies– at least that’s what doctors and non-doctors kept telling me. I’ll just keep on trying. I was sad but I had hope.

2.  Over the next 2 years, my hope was completely destroyed. Not a single pregnancy after trying on our own or with the help from our reproductive endocrinology friends. During this period, I grieved much more frequently, but on a smaller scale.  I was able to go to work, but sometimes I would cry on my commute to and from. I could get out of bed and function on a day-to-day basis, but if I checked social media and read about a new pregnancy, I’d be in a bad mood for most of the day. I found myself declining invites to baby showers and other baby related events. I was slowly withdrawing. During this period, I wasn’t grieving over a loss per se, but over the same endpoint- nothingness. I felt hopeless and helpless. The lack of control over my situation tormented me.

3. A second pregnancy, with a heartbeat detected, followed by a miscarriage (actually I’m still waiting for that to happen. That’s another story). This one hit me hard. I still cry daily. I couldn’t go to work for a while. I could barely get out of bed. I could barely eat. I did not want to see anybody or talk to anybody except for my husband. I was sad, devastated and angry. I strongly questioned my faith. I was in a state where absolutely nothing could make me feel better. I am still in this state and I don’t think I will ever fully recover. But one thing that helped a little is the passage of time. It made me realize that there are things I cannot change. I am in the midst of another loss, and I cannot reverse this. It will always be heartbreaking and devastating. I feel what I feel. But I have to move on. See my doctor, come up with new plans, take care of myself, go back to work and get things “back to normal.”

I  will end with this: if you are going through something, ANYTHING, that is getting you down, tell someone. A loved one, a friend, a co-worker, a therapist, a counselor– anyone. You might be surprised how supportive they can be. Support is so important during a time when you are most vulnerable.

Get Low

Ever have one of those days? Or weeks?

I want to take a break from social media. The amount of people I have snoozed or blocked for posting all things pregnancy/baby related is getting out of hand.  I can think of at least 3 people who have announced they are pregnant within the past month alone.

Fun fact: I realized something about myself . Not all parenthood-related posts trigger me (ie, make me feel sad and depressed and helpless). Only the ones related to the state of being pregnant- like pregnancy announcements, ultrasound pictures, baby bumps, gender reveals, baby showers- do. But pictures of babies and kids don’t make me feel as bad. Huh.

Anyway, I follow this one person on social media who is dealing with an issue of her own. The majority of her posts are filled with optimism, with the occasional “it’s okay to be not okay” message. And you know what, she’s right.

I don’t hide my feelings from my family and friends, but I do put on a happy face more often than not. I go to work every day and my coworkers would never guess what I am going through (except for the ones who know). Even my own family, who gives me  such amazing support, doesn’t fully get it that when I see my baby cousins, as much as I love playing with them, it’s still a painful reminder of the family I do not yet have.

So you know what? I’ve been more down lately. Things aren’t going as smoothly as I would like. I’m not going to repress my feelings.

Because this sucks.

And it’s okay.

A Not So Happy Mother’s Day

Although every day should be Mother’s Day, I like the idea of having a designated holiday to celebrate the wonderful mothers out there. As a child I enjoyed spending the day with my mother and my grandmothers.

As I continue my infertility journey, each passing Mother’s Day becomes more and more bittersweet. Of course I still celebrate it with my mother and grandmother, but I yearn for the day when I will be celebrated too. Mother’s Day is another painful reminder that I am not a mother. And with all of my mom friends on social media who will be flooding my newsfeeds with pictures of their Mother’s Day celebrations, this just amplifies that feeling of being slapped in the face.

This year, I celebrate mother’s day with a miscarriage under my belt, along with multiple failed ovulation-induction cycles. In fact, I was in the middle of a new cycle and just got my period yesterday. While periods are heartbreaking for any woman trying to conceive, the pain stings harder for me when the period fall out around Mother’s Day.

I walk outside and see strangers, young girls with baby strollers and belly bumps. Women that are probably younger than me.  I hope the realize how blessed they are. I can’t help but think that the world is trying to tell me “EFF YOU.” And I don’t know what I did to deserve this.

This year, I will be returning home from an 8 hour road trip, so I will “miss” Mother’s Day. But while that might numb the pain, it doesn’t eliminate it.

Does Social Media Make You Feel Like a Bad Person?

Let me explain.

One recurring theme I’ve come across is how women with infertility/miscarriage react when a friend/family member is pregnant. Feeling happy for them, yet also sad/frustrated/angry/jealous/bitter/you name it. I’ve gone through all of those emotions.

Less than one month after my miscarriage, I got a pregnancy announcement from my cousin (who is younger than me and on her second kid- it’s not a race, but still) and from one of my close friends. I was beside myself. Of course I was happy for the both of them. I really was! But at the same time, I thought, why not me?

I was pretty sad about it. I still am.

Enter the world of social media. In the age of oversharing, there are so many opportunities to share whatever you want- and this is great! I’ve done it! When I got married, I shared pictures! When I got a new job, I shared that too! But it seems like every day someone new is either pregnant or just gave birth. And to be honest, it’s hard for me. Pictures of birth announcements, ultrasounds, baby-bumps, gender reveals, baby showers, baby pictures- things I used to enjoy looking at now evoke such negative emotion within me. I even get flooded with celebrity pregnancy posts. I can’t catch a break! Of course these women have every right to display their happiness- I would give anything to be in their shoes! But now I am here feeling sorry for myself and angry and bitter and, you know the drill. And then I feel guilty for feeling these feelings (especially the anger, bitterness and jealousy).

Some things I did to help clear my mind: I talked it out, mostly with the hubby (bless him and his unlimited supply of patience). I unfollowed some of the more frequent posters (you know, the ones who post like a million pictures of the same baby-related thing every day). I stopped “liking” pictures, even of closer friends. This might seem silly, but right now, it’s too much for me to handle. I know I said I would share my experiences and how I cope, but I’m still figuring out how to fully cope with this one. I’ll probably take a break from social media altogether. And will focus on my blog 🙂